Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the LP ranch ...


A few bylaws amendments are in the submissions works for the Missouri Libertarian Party's upcoming state convention. Among the proposals to be considered:

Section 10.4a Conflict Of Interest

Any person who is running for office in a partisan race on behalf of another party shall be ineligible to serve as a member of the Missouri Libertarian Party Executive Committee, the State Committee and hold Missouri Libertarian State Offices for the duration of the election cycle. Ineligibility shall begin on filing date for said election and conclude on the general election date.


and

Section 10.4b Conflict of Interest

Any person who is holding a National, State or Executive Committee seat for another Political Party shall be ineligible to serve as a member of the Missouri Libertarian Party Executive Committee, the State Committee and hold Missouri Libertarian State Offices until said person resigns said seat.


Also likely: Two competing amendments regarding the acceptance or rejection of candidate filing fees -- one which would mandate acceptance of all such fees, one which would list specific circumstances under which the executive committee could refuse the fees.

There are several obvious targets for the explicit amendments above. Last year several Missouri Libertarians supported Ron Paul's Republican presidential candidacy, and at least one LPMO executive committee member ran for Congress as a "Ron Paul Republican." I ran in one other state as the vice-presidential candidate of another party myself. I'm not going to attack or defend the Ron Paul folks (or myself) here; just pointing out the origin/cause of the amendments.

The "filing fee" amendments are about situations where the executive committee decides, for whatever reason, that the filing candidate isn't a "good representative" for the LP. Previously, the executive committee has done what it thought it had to do -- with the result that the definition of "bad representative" started at "mouth-breathing neo-nazi fruitcake," but quickly expanded itself to "our best-performing candidate in a three-way race, the one who got us mentioned by Jay Leno, the one who our superior committee explicitly told us to keep our grubby mitts off of."

I'm pretty much past the point of getting exercised over this stuff (the executive committee's revolt against its state committee, the party bylaws and Missouri's election laws about a year ago frankly wore me out), but I might as well go ahead and lay the facts out:

- The Missouri LP doesn't get to decide who's eligible to serve on its state committee -- state election law sets forth the requirements, and anyone who meets them is eligible, the party's bylaws notwithstanding.

- The Missouri LP doesn't get to decide who may run on its ballot line as a candidate -- state election law sets forth the requirements, and anyone who meets them is eligible, the party's bylaws notwithstanding.

- The party's executive committee could theoretically refuse filing fees (although that's something the state committee does need to establish a policy on, a policy that the executive committee then needs to adhere to rather than ignore at its whim). However, there's no provision in Missouri's election law which would impair the eligibility of a candidate whose fee is refused to appear on the Libertarian Party's primary ballot line or to serve as its nominee if elected in the primary.

The Missouri LP could sue to have those laws overturned, of course, and we might even win, but it's best to acknowledge that the law is what it is instead of just pretending the law isn't there.

The only question of real interest is whether these bylaws amendments are just meaningless and ineffectual bits of political masturbation, or whether they're dangerous ways to get the Missouri LP sued and possibly sucked dry in the process. The latter is certainly possible, but even the former is good reason to reject them at the state convention next month.

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